Significance of a Vagh Nakha
Vagh Nakha / Bagh Nakha
Vagh Nakha or bagh nakha, also known as a tiger claw. It originated from the Indian subcontinent, particularly Maharashtra. It is designed to fit over the knuckles or be concealed under and against the palm. This bagh nakha consists of four curved blades affixed to a crossbar or glove and is designed to slash through skin and muscle. The claws of this vagh nakha are made of carbon steel, the crossbar and the rings are made of brass.
Several variations of bagh nakha exist, including one in which the single crossbar is replaced by two plates hinged together; with an additional loop and claw for the thumb. The earliest vagh nakha did not utilize loops for the fingers, rather round holes were punched through the central plate. Many bagh nakha also incorporated a spike or blade on one end of the crossbar. This form was known as a bichuwa bagh nakha because the blade was based on that of the bichuwa (scorpion knife).
The most well-known usage of the weapon is by the first Maratha King Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who used the bagh nakha to kill the Bijapur general Afzal Khan. There are conflicting reports of the time period in which the vagh nakha first appeared. Poisoned bagh nakh had been used by the Rajput clans for assassinations. It is also a popular weapon among the Nihang Sikhs. They often hold one in their left hand while wielding a larger weapon such as a sword in the right hand. It is known as Sher Panja in the native Punjabi language.
While often associated with thieves and assassins, the bagh nakha was also used by wrestlers in a form of fighting called Naki ka Kusti or “claw wrestling” which persisted even under the British colonial rule. M. Rousselete, who visited Baroda in 1864, described “naki-ka-kusti” as one of the raja’s favorite forms of entertainment. The men, drunk with bhang or Indian hemp, rushed upon each other and tore like tigers at face and body; forehead-skins would hang like shreds; necks and ribs were laid open, and not infrequently one or both would bleed to death.
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